What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a regular dentist?
A dentist is a doctor that specializes in oral health. In most cases, three or more years of undergraduate education plus four years at an accredited dental school is necessary for graduation and to then become a general dentist. Pediatric dentists can be regarded as the pediatricians of oral health. A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training in addition to dental school and his/her practice is limited to treating only children. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.
When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?
We suggest that you take your child to their first dental appointment within approximately 6 months of his/her first tooth arrival or by their first birthday. If there are problems with your child’s teeth however, such as tooth discoloration, you’ll want to schedule the first dental exam as quickly as possible.
When will the eruption of my child’s teeth happen?
Teeth will begin to appear through the gums at approximately 6 months of age. Typically, the first teeth that will “erupt” will be the two bottom front teeth, known as the “bottom central incisors”. After that, the top front four teeth will begin to appear, then the other teeth will slowly begin to fill in the mouth, usually in pairs, one on each side of the upper or lower jaw, until all 20 have come in. This usually happens between two and a half and three years of age. The full set of primary teeth should be present by age seven.
Are baby teeth really that important to my child?
Yes, baby teeth are very important to your child. These initial teeth are essential for chewing, as well as speaking properly. In addition, baby teeth serve the very important function of acting as placeholders, saving space in the mouth for the future, permanent teeth. Baby teeth typically stay in the mouth until the point at which an erupting permanent tooth underneath is prepared to emerge out of the gums.
What should I do if my child has a toothache?
If your child has a toothache, the first thing to do is to rinse your child’s mouth with warm salt water. If there is swelling, apply a cold compress to the face. You can also give your child some Tylenol to ease the pain. Schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist as quickly as possible, even if the pain subsides.
How can parents help prevent tooth decay?
Tooth decay is the cause of bacteria eating away at the enamel of the teeth. You can prevent tooth decay with the following:
- Brush and floss every day.
- Take care of your own teeth and gums, so that you don’t transfer bacteria to your child.
- Watch sugar intake in baby formulas and breast milk. Remove the bottle from your baby’s mouth before he/she falls asleep to prevent mouth bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
- Watch out for juices. Be aware that most fruit drinks contain large amounts of sugar that can be highly corrosive to the teeth.
- Introduce your baby to cups at around 1 year. Continued bottle feedings at this age can increase the risk of tooth decay.